Theo Pettway became a hair stylist when he couldn’t find someone to cut his own hair and finally did it himself. His artistic touch was immediate — but unsurprising, since Theo was raised in a family of artists in Gee’s Bend, Alabama. “I wanted to be more connected to my history, but I didn’t quilt or drive nails,” he explained.
Before discovering his craft for styling hair, Theo attended college as a marketing major. He soon felt uninspired, and his new talent was a welcome change. But would his family embrace hair as art? He finally approached his dad and shared the news, and, fortunately, father was just as enthusiastic as son. “He said, ‘I was waiting on you to tell me what you REALLY wanted to do,’” Theo recalled, beaming.
The next step for Theo was to attend cosmetology school, with the support of his new wife, and make his dream official. After several life detours, fellow colleague and visionary Christie White — who opened Arcadia Salon with her husband, Bill — asked Theo if he would come on board as the salon’s Director of Education. Today, Theo continues to evolve at Arcadia as he educates stylists on the salon’s high standards of quality.
In Theo’s own words, his role as Director of Education has become an integral part of his whole career. As you read this, he’s returned from a trip to Brooklyn to achieve another layer in his learning — as a student of Davines, the international hair care brand founded in Italy. Working with Davines is something Theo always knew he wanted to do, but the company’s sterling customer service — “I can make a phone call and talk to someone in Italy tomorrow and not go through a 1-800 number!” — is only part of the reason; Davines is known for being a cut above other brands and fits in perfectly at Arcadia.
The recent trip to New York was Theo’s first venture to the Davines Academy. The training session, which dealt in advanced color presentation, is one of the steps which will allow Theo to educate stylists on utilizing the brand.
One of Theo’s current and most enthusiastic apprentices is Arcadia Salon Co-owner Bill Langley. Interestingly, Bill is a late-comer among his own family of male hairstylists; his former career was in retail operations before he joined forces with Christie to create her vision. Just like Theo, Bill is a happy convert to the world of hairstyling, working his way through the 3,000 hours needed to earn his credentials. “I could have worked with a relative, but I thought I’d be a natural fit with Theo,” Bill said. “He’s so talented, and it’s a pleasure to watch him work. It’s effortless. And he’s an integral part of why we are in business.”
Everyone at Arcadia Salon is fully aware how important it is to have high standards for the perfect cut and color — and how the total styling experience is more than just a beauty errand.
“Hair itself can really be pivotal. You can wake up and look at your hair, and it can really make or break your day,” Theo noted. “We are more than stylists; we are therapists and friends. It’s not always about the cut or color — sometimes it’s the conversation and the attention.”